Within a manuscript that has not been read for a millennium and a half, there are secrets that will rewrite the history of an Empire…

London, United Kingdom – August 28, 2013

It is AD 518 in Constantinople at the heart of the Byzantine Empire. A beautiful courtesan famed for her interpretation of the myth ‘Leda and the Swan’ dances in the Imperial Palaces; stirring hearts, rousing desires, and changing the course of history indelibly. This woman, Theodora, was a circus performer and prostitute, before catching the eye of a clever young military officer. The soldier and the swan dancer set out on a treacherous path to power that would lead all the way to the throne. The events that ensue, amid the struggles and politics of a society in flux, will leave a city in smouldering ruins.

Erudition is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of The Eagle and the Swan, a debut historical novel by art historian and writer Carol Strickland. Strickland is author of the bestselling The Annotated Mona Lisa. She is also a regular correspondent on the subjects of art, architecture and cultural topics for various publications, such as The Christian Science Monitor and Art in America, and has contributed feature stories to The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

While researching the Hagia Sophia, a spectacular basilica built at the behest of Emperor Justinian, Strickland encountered numerous references to his partner, the Empress Theodora. Theodora had been labelled as corrupt, immoral and sexually depraved by historians of the era, notably by Procopius in his Secret History. Upon further investigation it became clear that Theodora was one of the least understood and most maligned women of antiquity, having fallen victim to prejudice of exclusively male historians. Strickland decided to write The Eagle and the Swan to provide an alternative view, portraying Theodora as the admirable but flawed human being that she surely was.

The novel is not just a compelling story about a remarkable woman of antiquity. It’s the story of an empire at a crucial turning point in world history, a moment that saw the birth of our modern Western world, conveyed in gripping, literary prose.  An enhanced version of the publication will enable the reader to experience this ancient world in all its richness and complexity through extensive images, maps, timelines, character portraits, and supplemental information on the history of the era, a significant epoch but one unfamiliar to readers today.

Erudition will be pioneering a new approach to publishing historical fiction with The Eagle and the Swan. Early bird readers will be able to join a Readers Club that will give them free access to the first four instalments of the publication and allow them to contribute via feedback and discussion forums. Thereafter, a standard version of the full publication will be available for sale on popular online retail platforms and directly from Erudition’s website as an eBook.  Beta versions of the enhanced publication will also be made available to Readers Club members in advance of their launch.

A comprehensive website featuring further background to the title and a blog written by Strickland on related historical and current affairs is available at www.theeagleandtheswan.com. The Readers Club will launch in September 2013. Those who wish to join the Readers Club can sign up to be notified of its launch at https://www.theeagleandtheswan.com/read/ or by subscribing to the title’s newsletter.